A MIXTURE of injuries, international call-ups and squad rotation has seen Newcastle Falcons freshen up their selection for this afternoon’s trip to Jersey.
The Championship leaders are without Taiasina Tu’ifua (Samoa), Suka Hufanga (Tonga) and Rory Lawson (Scotland) as the November test window enters its second half, while front-row pair Jonny Golding and Rob Vickers miss out with knocks.
Tane Tu’ipulotu is rested as the Falcons look to make it ten from ten in the Champiosnhip, up against a Jersey side toiling away at the wrong end of the table following last season’s ascension from National One.
The Channel island is currently awash with visiting supporters after the club’s charter flight sold out in a matter of days, and many more have travelled independently for what locals are billing the biggest sporting event in recent Jersey memory.
Around 4,000 people are expected to squeeze into their compact but picturesque venue against a club whose last enforced break from action was during the Nazi occupation.
Full-back Alex Tait makes his 100th senior appearance for the Falcons, stating: “We have seen from the videos just how ambitious Jersey are, and they like to move the ball about and back themselves.
“They have decent line-speed on their defence which means we have to be smart in how we attack, and with having no European games this season I know the boys are excited to go there on what will be our longest trip of the season.
“We have just got to stick to the game-plan, win the game first and if a bonus point follows then all the better.”
The Co Durham native is among the 27 different players to have scored Newcastle’s 58 tries in their 12 outings this season, although unusually their leading scorer is not a player but rather the penalty try.
Tait admitted: “I had no idea we had so many different try-scorers. I just thought the forwards scored them all!
“We are getting penalty tries from scrums and driving mauls virtually every game, so maybe the backs should step up a little bit and make a bigger contribution to the try tally.
“Our forwards have been outstanding, in fairness, and guys like Chris York and Grant Shiells have earned starts today as a result.
“The fact that you get rewarded for your form is all any player really wants, and to have that level of honesty in selection.”
JERSEY: G Bryce, E Tellwright, J Copsey, D Sanders, E Dawson, B Davies, D McCormack (captain); R Barrington, D Felton, J Brennan, R Anderson, D Markham, J Voss, E Nihill, N Trower. Replacements: S McCarthy, J Gethings, R Rodgers, F Silcock, N Griffiths, C Livesy, D Bishop.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, L Fielden, A Crockett, J Helleur, R Shortland, J Gopperth, W Fury,; G Shiells, M Thompson, O Tomaszczyk, S Tomes, S MacLeod, C York, M Wilson, A Hogg. Replacements: M Mayhew, J Hall, J Goode, R Mayhew, J Pasqualin, J Hodgson, J Hodgson, A Higgins.
Kick-off: 3pm. Referee: Steve Lee.